Martin Salter - Working Hard for Reading West This site is to help my constituents who may wish to contact me over a problem or an issue as well as providing useful means of informing them of the work I have been doing both in Reading West and in Parliament. Wed, 11 Dec 2019 08:59:11 +0000 en hourly 1 Eve of Poll Test Wed, 11 Dec 2019 08:44:59 +0000 john Some thoughts here

RBH Hydrotherapy Pool - Charities publish ‘devastating dossier’ against closure Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:43:40 +0000 john Report shows that dogs get a better deal in Berkshire than humans and that RBH has empty buildings next door to the pool they want to close because they ‘need the space’

Royal Berkshire Hospital has been accused of a ‘crass mismanagement of public facilities’, a failure to consult and follow ‘due process’ and of issuing deliberately misleading statements in a dossier produced by a coalition of patients groups and charities that have come together to oppose plans to close the hospital’s hydrotherapy pool which only opened in 2005.

The dossier (which can be downloaded here) is titled ‘Why the RBH should keep the hydrotherapy pool open - the case against closure‘ and states:

The RBH management claim they want to use the space taken up by the hydrotherapy pool for some other, as yet undefined purpose. Yet there is a far larger empty building - the old wheelchair clinic, podiatry and former outpatients unit - situated directly opposite the relatively new hydrotherapy pool. Why is an important clinical service being sacrificed on grounds of ’space’ when other buildings have been left empty for several years? This is a crass mismanagement of public facilities and must be challenged.

Both the campaign and the dossier has the strong support of Reading West MP Alok Sharma who said:

“I congratulate the campaign team for putting together such a comprehensive document making a very strong case for the hydrotherapy pool at Royal Berkshire hospital. Campaigners and I will be making many of the points raised in this paper when we meet the Chief Executive of the hospital later in the week. As the paper makes clear, if the hospital wants space to deliver other clinical services it should look to the far larger empty building situated directly opposite the hydrotherapy pool.”

A campaign group has been formed comprising representatives of the main patient groups and charities concerned with the medical conditions alleviated by hydrotherapy treatment. An online petition has been launched and together with signatures collected in Reading town centre and elsewhere over 3000 people have indicated their opposition to the planned closure of the pool. The campaign, which has received strong support from Reading’s MPs and local Councillors, is calling on the new RBH Chief Executive Steve McManus to reverse the decision of the previous management regime which ordered the closure without any consultation with users, patient groups or even the hospital’s own Council of Governors.

The dossier, which is publicly endorsed by physiotherapists, local GPs, and Graeme Hoskin - Reading’s Lead Councillor for Health and Well Being - concludes:

We urge our new RBH Chief Executive and the Council of Governors to immediately suspend the closure proposals and begin meaningful consultations with patients, clinicians, hospital governors, public representatives and user groups on the best way to deliver a cost efficient hydrotherapy service for the future.
The campaign to save the hydrotherapy pool is supported by Arthritis Matters, REACH, MS Society, Berks DPAC, Berkshire MS Therapy Centre, Peapods, Reading Fibromyalgia Support Group, Parkinson’s Society and Reading Families Forum.

Kim Seabrook, Chairman Arthritis Matters said:

“Hydrotherapy is a beneficial treatment across generations and across diseases. It enables people to regain their mobility and independence, and manage chronic conditions such as Arthritis, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis with fewer visits to GPs and hospitals. We must keep this valuable facility open for everyone in the local community.”

In their dossier the campaigner highlight the veterinary use of hydrotherapy

It is ironic to say the least that hydrotherapy is more readily available for dogs and horses in Berkshire than it is for humans. A recent survey shows that there are no fewer than 8 hydro facilities for dogs, yet only 1 NHS pool available for humans.

Former Reading West MP Martin Salter has come out of retirement to help coordinate the campaign. He will be attending the meeting organized by Alok Sharma with the RBH management on Friday morning (20th) in his role as patron of the Berkshire MS Therapy Centre.

Mr Salter said:

“In the 26 years I spent as an elected representative in this town I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a poorly presented case made for closing a public service. Our dossier presents powerful evidence to refute the claims made by the hospital management about the clinical benefits of hydrotherapy. It highlights the absurd situation which would see ‘a nearly new pool’ for disabled people - that I helped open in 2005 - closed down on grounds of space whilst the neighbouring block stands empty and would leave us in Berkshire with no fewer than eight hydro pools for dogs and next to nothing for human beings. You really couldn’t make it up!”

Save RBH Hydrotherapy Mon, 16 Jan 2017 09:14:47 +0000 john Back in 1998 I campaigned with Arthritis Matters, the MS Society and many others to ensure that the new consolidated hospital on the RBH site contained a hydrotherapy facility. We had a pool at Battle Hospital - originally paid for by Friends of Reading Hospitals - but unfortunately no provision for hydrotherapy was made in the relocation plans. We were eventually successful and I was delighted to attend the opening of the brand new pool in 2005.

Hydrotherapy is an invaluable treatment for those suffering from chronic pain conditions and despite what is being claimed the pool is well used and costs very little in terms of subsidy.

I’ve agreed to come out of retirement to support the campaign to keep the hydrotherapy pool open and I am working with Labour Councillors in Reading and my successor Alok Sharma MP to this end. We have produced a dossier making the case against the closure of this important facility which you can read HERE.

Please also sign the online petition HERE



An Open Letter to my Party Wed, 12 Aug 2015 16:50:16 +0000 john Lets try not to make ‘political oblivionthe choice for Labour tomorrow

Dont worry, this is not another missive from some ageing political hack urging you to vote for a particular candidate when the ballot opens for the election of a new Leader and Deputy Leader of our party on Friday. You crack on and vote for whoever you think will lead us back from the parlous place we now occupy – an endangered species in Scotland, a decidedly minority party in England and a fading force in Wales - to victory at the next election. Uncomfortable as this plain truth is for some on the political fringes, politics is necessarily about power. Power to turn our policies and principles into practical action for the benefit of those who most need a Labour government and who can ill afford to live through another decade, or whatever, of a rampant Tory administration untroubled by any effective opposition and cheered on by a craven media.

For sure we can vote for a leader who makes us feel good about ourselves and go to the country with a manifesto that burnishes our socialist credentials but in reality is nothing more than the  ‘longest political suicide note in history. We tried that with Michael Foot in 1983 and it was that complete and utter shambles that persuaded me to throw myself into the battle to turn Labour, both locally and nationally, into a fighting force that could once again inspire the trust and confidence of the electorate and prise the grubby fingers of the Tories from the levers of power.

Tony Benn might have thought that the electoral oblivion that we faced in 1983 was a triumph because ‘8 million people voted for socialismbut he forgot to mention the 21 million who didnt. The result was 18 years era of Conservative rule which divided the country as never before, destroyed our manufacturing base, emasculated trade unions, increased poverty and inequality and left a generation without hope or prospects. Some triumph!

Since I stood down in 2010, after 26 years of fighting and winning in the marginal seats that our party needs to capture to have a hope of returning to office, I have watched with increasing horror as we have appeared to resort to our comfort zone and forget the real achievements of Labour in government in favour of talking to ourselves rather than those we seek to represent.

Jeremy Corbyn is lovely bloke and has been afforded the luxury of voting more than 500 times against his own party and parliamentary colleagues, safe in the knowledge that these comforting gestures would achieve nothing as there were sufficient Labour MPs prepared to give their own government the benefit of the doubt more often than not. As Alan Johnson writes in his excellent piece here, the NHS and the Open University were Labour achievements born not out of disloyalty but out of determination and discipline.

Now most of us had a few red lines and the occasional disagreement with the Leadership, which occasionally expressed itself in the division lobbies, but our underlying principle was that Labour voters had sent us to Parliament to vote Labour and to support Labour policies and a Labour manifesto. No political leader has a snowballs chance in Hell of succeeding unless they are able to count on the support of their parliamentary colleagues and if the polls are right and Jeremy is elected leader it would be interesting to see him hold the party together if his fellow MPs are but half as disloyal as he has been. Divided parties dont win elections and believe me a Corbyn led Labour Party would crash and burn while the Tories and their backers rub their hands with glee.

Im a great believer in a political existence outside the comfort zone – that probably explains why I like living in Reading – and, even nowadays, I do keep tabs on what the enemy are up to. Check out this piece by the odious Toby Young in the Torygraph on why £3 is money well spent registering as a bogus Labour supporter in order to vote for Corbyn and consign Labour to ‘electoral oblivion.

Im not sure which political genius thought it was a good idea to allow Tories, Greens, Trots and other of our political foes to join our ranks in order to help us destroy ourselves. To his great shame Jeremy has done nothing to discourage or condemn this unprecedented level of infiltration. Im told that ‘Tories for Corbynis now the fastest growing political movement of moment.

So we know who David Cameron is hoping he will be facing across the dispatch box in a few weekstime and I guess we could make an argument that it not about personalities – afterall that worked really well with Ed Miliband – but about the policies being put forward by the candidates. Thats why I wont be voting for Liz Kendall either. I want a Labour Leader to look and sound like a Labour Leader not an apologist for either a Torylite agenda or, in the case of Corbyn, an amalgam of every passing political protest movement in recent history.

My friend and colleague Jon Cruddas, who Im sure is now regretting helping to put Corbyn on the ballot paper, has published research showing just how out of touch the electorate will view Jeremys dismissal of the need to re-establish economic confidence and credibility. Positioning himself as the anti-austerity candidate has clearly benefitted Corbyn but as Cruddas says: “The first hard truth is that the Tories didnt win despite austerity, they won because of it.”

Those of us who came through the battles of the Thatcher years remember the point when the next Labour government went from being a dream to a racing certainty. It wasnt the Poll Tax, ‘cash for questionsor the Maastricht Treaty revolts – although these undoubtedly helped. The point of no return for the Conservative Party occurred in September 1992 with ‘Black Wednesday. This was the day they lost their reputation for economic competence.

From 2010 onwards we have allowed our enemies to re write history, and misrepresent Labours economic record almost unchallenged, consigning the Party to a certain defeat in 2015. From 1997 to 2008 we delivered rising living standards and unprecedented investment in schools, hospitals and public services. As Johnson reminds us, lets not forget the 3,000 Sure Start centres, the Disability Discrimination Act, the Human Rights Act, civil partnerships, rescuing 1.2 million children from absolute poverty and 1.8 million from relative poverty, pension credit and the worlds first legally enforceable carbon reduction targets.

I want a Labour leader who will stand up and proudly promote the achievements of our Party in government whether it be the first ever national minimum wage, the historic Belfast Agreement, Trade Union rights and an end to the union ban at GCHQ, new rights at work including maternity and paternity pay and re-joining the civilised world by honouring our commitment to overseas aid to help some of the most impoverished people on this planet.

It will be a long march back to power and electability and our next Leader has to be both a visionary and a proud advocate for our achievements rather than a reluctant apologist. Our next Labour leader must be a unifier, capable of demanding and inspiring loyalty, both within the party and amongst those whose support we need to succeed. They must look like a Prime Minister in waiting and have credibility on the economy and in other major areas of public policy.

Sure, we can ignore these key tests and vote for the candidate that makes us feel good about ourselves. We can do the Tories work for them and consign ourselves to political oblivion for a generation or we could do something a bit more clever and principled. We could, in the moments before we cast our votes, reflect on the hopes and aspirations of those who fought to create a party for working people and social justice in the teeth of opposition from a powerful establishment. When Labour loses its horrible for our activists and candidates but its a thousand times worse for those who look to us to protect their homes, hospitals, schools, jobs and communities from the worst excesses of what the Tories have in mind.

Martin Salter

Labour MP for Reading West 1997 - 2010

12th August 2015

Well done Mr Brown … but will we see the uncensored report?! Wed, 15 Dec 2010 09:51:31 +0000 admin Earlier this year, in separate hearings, Fisho editor Jim Harnwell and I gave evidence to the New South Wales Parliamentary Inquiry into Recreational Fishing on the controversial issue of angling bans in Marine Parks. Many of us also pressed for a stronger and better system of representation for local anglers and to open up access to closed waters. On Friday, after much wrangling, the inquiry report was finally published. So what does the report say and what could this mean for recreational fishers in New South Wales?

Well first off let me say that Rob Brown of the Shooters an Fishers Party, who chaired this Upper House inquiry for over a year, has done a fine job for us. Despite all the politics and posturing and inevitable attempts by the Greens and their allies to water down the recommendations this is still a pretty reasonable report with some potentially positive outcomes for angling in NSW.

However, to find out what really went on we need to dig a little deeper and to break down our examination into three key areas; namely the evidence, the recommendations and the process.


This is most impressive part with over 1000 submissions, more than 100 witnesses and 10 public hearings across NSW. The evidence base alone has made this an invaluable exercise and gives us a great resource base on which we can draw in future campaigns. A clear majority of witnesses and submissions illustrated how the existing Marine Parks and Sanctuary Zones were poorly conceived and implemented and were bereft of proper scientific justification. There was also a strong case made for transferring monies spent on Marine Parks into tackling the real threats to the aquatic environment which are land use practices and habitat destruction as well as commercial over exploitation. Powerful arguments were put forward to overhaul ACORF and transfer the management of Marine Parks into Fisheries.


Although there are some good things put forward there are too many “reviews” and “considers” rather than “change” and “musts”. It is a shame that the Labor members of the committee, particularly Linda Voltz, combined with the sole Green - Ian Cohen, to water down the recommendations that the evidence suggested should have been put forward.

I will highlight a few of the good things:

  • No more Marine Parks for five years to allow for proper assessment.
  • Re- introduction of trolling in some Sanctuary Zones
  • Each Marine Park to introduce one area of restricted angling in a Sanctuary Zone
  • GPS marking of all zones
  • Full review of ACORF
  • Fisheries to engage licence holders via database
  • Research restrictions on Rec Fish Havens - eg. Botany Bay
  • One artificial reef per MP in compensation
  • More compliance officers
  • Open up freshwater dams such as Prospect Res on a trial basis
  • Water Safety Advisory Council to look at the issue of mandatory lifejackets for dangerous rock platforms

And some potentially bad things:

  • commercial access to some recreational fishing havens for certain species
  • allowing beach hauling by Aboriginal communities to remain exempt from licensing

The Process

Most alarming of all has been the behaviour of Cohen and Voltz who moved scores of amendments deleting references to any evidence which did not correspond to their own personal views of the world. This is a travesty of the process in my opinion. I spent 13 years as an active member of a number of major Select Committees in a national parliament and the golden rule was to make the report reflect the evidence not your prejudices!

Now they couldn’t remove the evidence transcripts from the public record but they did try to expunge references to evidence they didn’t like in the final published report. Here are just some examples …

  • Removing data on economic benefit of rec fishing to local community… Cohen 2.5
  • deleting reference to catch and release and the effectiveness of circle hooks… Voltz 2.23/4
  • Re-wording section to make rec fishers seem less compliant and less willing to countenance increases in size and bag limits… Voltz and Cohen 3.17 - 3.36
  • Delete reference to impact of seal colony at Montague Island taking more than the entire rec catch for the area ..Voltz 3.45
  • Deleting whole rafts of evidence from prof Bob Kearney…Voltz and Cohen 3.46 through to 4.36 and beyond!
  • Delete evidence re need to spend money improving land use practices rather than on more marine parks of questionable value… Cohen 3.17
  • Spend Rec Fish Trust money on making good polluted estuaries rather than dipping into Environmental Trust funds!… Cohen Rec 3
  • Delete evidence showing poor practice in marine park planning process… Cohen 4.89
  • Delete evidence showing bad land use practice by MPA causing environmental problems in tidal lakes… Cohen 4.238
  • Delete reference to DPI scientific expertise not being properly used by MPA… Voltz 4.252

And so on and so on … it will take you a while to get to the end of all these ridiculous amendments but if you download the report HERE and then go to Minutes 13, 14 and 15, which are at the back of the report from about page 396 onwards, you will see what these characters have been up to. You might also like to read Rob Brown’s dissenting report in Appendix 9.

Funnily enough it seems as if Voltz and Cohen were so busy removing references to vast tracks of evidence they didn’t like from people as knowledgeable as Canberra Fisheries professor Bob Kearney and representatives of NSW fishing clubs that they forgot to delete a whole range of recommendations that are good news for us!

Anyway, I think we should be pressing for the publication of the full, uncensored report as it seems that our opponents are afraid of the facts. Apparently the original Chairman’s Draft Report is considered confidential and even those of us who took the trouble to attend and give evidence are not issued with a copy. All we get is the censored version after Cohen & Co have done their worst. Crazy really, since anyone with a spare couple of weeks could piece it all back together by re-inserting the sections and recommendations that were removed. But why should we have spend our time playing word games when this was supposed to be an exercise in public scrutiny? I’m sure that Fisho would be only too pleased to publish the two versions of this report side by side so that we can all see, at a glance, what evidence the Greenies tried to suppress!

That said we should welcome this report as a useful guide for the NSW Government and ask them for a response ahead of the election in March rather than waiting to the June deadline. If the government is short of time, and I concede it’s a weighty report, then at least the State party leaders can let us have a clear statement of intent as to which parts of which report they support or oppose. That way fishers in NSW can see what they are voting for which seems to me to be a pretty basic democratic requirement.

If you agree with either or both of these points why not write to Rob Brown, or drop me an email. I can be reached at

Let’s hope the politicians are listening and perhaps, instead of clamping down on their fellow citizens with a rod and line whose impact on fish populations is not only properly regulated but negligible, they turn their attention to the real threats to fish stocks. As any fishery scientist will tell them these include: inshore pollution, sedimentation and agricultural chemical run-off which destroys the spawning habitats vital to successful recruitment and, of course, commercial over-fishing.

Recreational fishing and boating is a huge part of the lifestyle here in Australia. It is worth over ten billion dollars to the economy and sustains thousands of jobs. Furthermore, kids who fish are less likely to get caught up in drugs and crime and fishing is a great way for them to learn more about the environment. Let’s also hope that the Inquiry findings are the beginning of a New Deal for the long suffering Australian anglers.

Ed’s note: An opinion piece by Martin Salter on the state of fishing and marine parks in NSW appeared in last weekend’s Daily Telegraph - read it HERE.

Anglers are True Protectors of Ocean Sat, 11 Dec 2010 09:41:57 +0000 admin WITH three million anglers in a population of 20 million, it is surprising that recreational fishing hasn’t been given greater political attention.

The fact that people in Australia and NSW even feel the need to form and vote for specific pro-fishing parties is, in my view, an admission of failure by the political establishment.

Given the ill-informed anti-angling bias that is prevalent amongst many of the more extreme Greens, it is hardly surprising that thousands of voters who enjoy fishing are feeling threatened and are looking for new leadership.

It takes a rare genius in a country with superb fisheries, a massive and pristine coastline and a comparatively small population to create such a large number of angry and disaffected citizens who simply want to go fishing for fun. Both sides of politics in Australia have done their best to alienate Aussie anglers.

Despite their recent posturing, it was the last Coalition government which brought in the Marine Parks Act in 1997 and set up the ludicrous bureaucracy which ignores fishery science in the process of designation and assessment.

Labor realised too late the electoral damage that the marine park lock-outs demanded by the Greens were doing to its core vote. In my short time fishing in this wonderful country I’ve already met plenty of former Labor voters worried at the price their party may have to pay for Green preferences.

Labor would be mad to sub-contract its environmental policy to the Greens. Nothing will placate the zealots in their ranks who wish to ban angling.

As a paying NSW recreational fishing licence holder, I share the frustration of fellow anglers who are locked out of fishing grounds for no good reason than an increasing number of marine parks.

Anglers are conservationists. It was the internationally renowned conservationist David Bellamy who described us as ” the eyes, ears and guardians of the waterside”. Locking anglers out of great areas of ocean makes no sense when there is not a single species of fish in Australian waters endangered by recreational fishing.

At the recent parliamentary inquiry into recreational fishing, Al McGlashlan and I put forward a plan to allow anglers in receipt of a special permit who practise “catch and release” to be allowed access to a majority of the marine park sanctuary zones from which they’ve been excluded. Let’s hope the politicians are listening and perhaps, instead of clamping down on their fellow citizens with a rod and line whose impact on fish populations is not only properly regulated but negligible, they turn their attention to the real threats to fish stocks. As any fishery scientist will tell them, these include inshore pollution, sedimentation and agricultural chemical run-off.

Recreational fishing and boating is a huge part of the lifestyle here in Australia. It is worth over $10 billion to the economy and sustains thousands of jobs. Kids who fish are less likely to get caught up in drugs and crime and fishing is a great way for them to learn more about the environment. Let’s hope the politicians are listening and that the inquiry findings are the beginning of a new deal for long-suffering anglers.

Aussie Anglers Badly Let Down says Salter Mon, 13 Sep 2010 09:19:32 +0000 admin Former UK Angling MP Calls on NSW Politicians to Support More Recreational Fishing in Marine Parks

Last week the British Labour Party’s former Angling Spokesman, Martin Salter gave evidence to the New South Wales Parliamentary Inquiry into Recreational Fishing which is looking, amongst other things, at the controversial issue angling and Marine Parks which featured as a significant issue in the recent Australian Federal election. Mr Salter, who retired from the House of Commons in April and is living for a while in Sydney accused NSW politicians of providing poor representation for the State’s estimated 1 milion anglers who now have their own Fishing and Shooting Party. He put forward a plan to allow anglers in reciept of a special permit who practise ‘catch and release’ to be allowed to regain access to a majority of the Marine Park sanctuary zones from which they’ve been excluded.

In his submission of Mr Salter said;

“With three million anglers in a population of a little over 20 million that has just voted in a ‘hung’ federal parliament it is surprising that recreational anglers weren’t given greater attention by the two main political parties. The eve of poll statement by the Prime Minister on the highly controversial issue of further extensions to the Marine Parks programme, particularly on the Fraser Coast in QLD clearly came too late to prevent a voter backlash against sitting Labor members. The fact that people in Australia and NSW even feel the need to form and vote for specific ‘Pro-Fishing’ parties is, in my view, an admission of failure by the political establishment on these issues. Given the ill informed anti-angling bias that is prevalent amongst many of the more extreme green activists it is hardly surprising that thousands of voters who enjoy angling are feeling threatened and are looking for new leadership. This is in marked contrast to the UK where all the main political parties, with the exception of the Greens, readily signed up to the Manifesto for Angling produced by the countries national angling body, The Angling Trust.”

He added

“It takes a rare genius in a country with superb fisheries, a massive and often pristine coastline and a comparatively small population to create such a large number of angry and disaffected citizens who simply want to go fishing. The problem is as much political as it is environmental and presents a challenge to which the mainstream politicians must respond. Nothing will ever placate the ultra-green extremists who wish to ban angling and would even make it illegal to keep animals for pets and who simply want to lock the human race out of large tracts of the earth and the oceans.”

Mr Salter contrasted the unhappiness of anglers in Australia with his own experiences in the UK where all the main  political parties signed a joint manifesto pledge to support angling and where the recently introduced Marine Bill received strong support from the countries national angling governing body following ministerial assurances that recreational fishing would be permitted in a majority of the Marine Conservation Zones.

Mr Salter says;

“Although I’m supposed to be having a break from politics, as a paying NSW Recreational Fishing Licence holder I share the frustration of my fellow anglers who are being locked out of prime fishing grounds for no good reason in Marine Parks whose designation appears to be based on dodgy science and political dogma. Aussie anglers feel they have been badly let down by mainstream politicians who have failed to stand up to the anti-angling green extremists. Anglers are conservationists first and foremost, they are the eyes and ears of the waterside environment and locking them out of great swathes of the ocean makes no sense when their is not a single species of fish in Australian waters whose existence is endangered by recreational fishing alone.”




More Info: The full text of Mr Salter’s submission can be found here:


Summary of Evidence from Martin Salter, Former UK Parliamentary Angling Spokesman

Marine Parks and a Science-Based Approach

There is no doubt that properly managed Marine Parks are a good thing and an important management tool. However, they can only work by consent and, in particular, the consent and co-operation of those who regularly use, value and know about the areas covered by the Marine Park boundaries. It is clear that there will never be sufficient resources to properly police the boundaries and enforce the restrictions which is why community consent is so important.

From what I can see there have been problems in four areas - with the initial consultation processes, with the use of questionable or non existent scientific data to justify restrictions on angling in Sanctuary Zones, with the lack of comprehensive assessments of the restricted zones and with the basic failure to define exactly what it is that the marine environment requires protecting from ?

We should ask what species of fish in Australian waters are currently endangered solely by recreational angling ? The answer is of course none which is why there is little justification for excluding all forms of angling in most of the Sanctuary Zones. In fact, when it comes to either migratory fish species or highly mobile pelagic species it is a pretty pointless exercise and only increases pressure on other areas. Also, given that anglers are potentially the best enforcers of these zones against commercial abuse, if they were allowed access to them , the Marine Parks Authorities are losing valuable allies.

One of the greatest threats to both the marine environment and to healthy fish stocks is estuarine pollution usually caused by human activity or agricultural run-off and the loss of vital nursery areas such as mangroves and seagrasses. Every year huge numbers of fish eggs and fry perish as a result of acidification, eutrophication, chemical pollution and sedimentation. Simply locking anglers out of more and more areas of the ocean does absolutely nothing to resolve this most basic problem of habitat destruction and degradation.

A Way Forward - Recommendations

More Promotion and Education

- Much more needs to be done in the community to acknowledge the social , educational and environmental benefits of recreational angling. Education packs for all young anglers and the promotion of responsible angling in schools. Better communication with all licence holders to increase awareness of fisheries issues and angling opportunities and to encourage feedback.

- Properly quantify the number of anglers in NSW, the licence fee income and the overall contribution of the sport to the economy. 512,000 adult licences were sold on average annually over last 5 years, with the estimated total number of 900,000 - 1 million anglers in NSW  including pensioners and young people who do not need a licence. A 2002 survey estimated angling worth $550m to NSW economy but the 2010 figure would be nearer to $800m. A more accurate assessment of numbers and economic impact will help make the politicians realise what an important constituency this is.

Marine Park Organisation

- End the arbitrary objective of establishing a set amount of waters to be designated as no take or no fishing zones and set out clear scientific and environmental criteria for the creation of Marine Parks and the establishment of Sanctuary Zones within the parks. Introduce a transparent process of assessment of impact including the social and economic consequencies of exclusions. Review the existing consultation procedures to allow for meaningful engagement and community consent. Consider a moratorium on new Marine Parks or Sanctuary Zone extensions until full assessments have been concluded.

- Relocate the Marine Parks Authority into the same department as NSW Fisheries with the establishment of a single body for administration and regulation.

- End the administrative distinction between Commonwealth and State Marine Parks by delegating enforcement, administration and budgets to the State Governments - afterall why have unnecessary duplication?

Stronger Representation for Recreational Anglers

- Promote the creation of a single, independent body to represent anglers and the angling trade at State and Federal levels. Funding could be provided through a tax break to the industry which then delivers a levy on tackle sold to help finance the organisations and perhaps boost the coffers of the existing fisheries trusts.

More Environmentally Friendly Fishing Practices

- Use the 2011 review of bag limits and promotion of better environmental practice by anglers.. eg.. Minimum sizes for keep sacks, phasing out of knotted mesh, increased use of barbless, semi barbless and circle hooks. Increase size limits to ensure that all species have the chance to mature and breed eg. Jewfish - currently 45cms which should be nearer 70cms and Kingfish - currently 65cms when maturity is reached at 70cms.

A Separate Permit for Sanctuary Zone Recreational Fishing.

-A separate and additional licence to be made available , for a fee, to existing licence holders wishing to be granted permission to fish in NSW Marine Park Sanctuary Zones in all but the most highly protected areas subject to the following restrictions and requirements.

  • Catch and Release only
  • Use of Circle or Semi- Barbless hooks only
  • No fish whatsoever on board boats in MP areas save for live or dead baits
  • All special licence holders to provide a monthly return to fisheries on catches and activity in the area
  • A hotline number to instantly report abuses or incursions by commercials
  • Advance notice to be given via email of intention to fish in a MP
  • Local close seasons for specific species where a scientific case can be made
  • The boat rego to be included on the special licence to aid enforcement

It will not be possible to completely unravel the existing network of Marine Parks but it is entirely possible to re-determine what they are for and what and who can use them. They must be administered rationally and with proper scientific justification for any restrictions imposed on otherwise lawful activities that can be undertaken within them. Currently, the lock out of recreational anglers means there is a lack of information, data and enforcement - it is the worst of all worlds. A special licensing system would address these problems, provide invaluable research material absolutely free of charge and ensure that only responsible and serious individuals fished these areas in the most environmentally conscious manner. Obviously in some of the Marine Parks there would be a proven scientific case for retaining a small, highly protected area within in which all human activity is prohibited - such as Grey Nurse Shark sanctuaries and the like. There is nothing in these proposals which would prevent this from occuring .



Select Committee Members

Chair: The Hon Robert Brown MLC

Deputy Chair: The Hon Tony Catanzaritit MLC.

The Hon. Robert BROWN (Shooters and Fishers Party, LC Member)

The Hon. Tony CATANZARITI (ALP, LC Member)

Mr Ian COHEN (The Greens, LC Member)

The Hon. Richard COLLESS (Nat, LC Member)

The Hon. Charlie LYNN (Lib, LC Member)

The Hon. Christine ROBERTSON (ALP, LC Member)

The Hon. Lynda VOLTZ (ALP, LC Member)


Main contact Rachel Simpson 9230 2898 9230 3416

Principal Council Officer John Young 9230 3464

Senior Council Officer Kate Mihaljek 9230 3544

Assistant Council Officer Lynn Race 9230 3504                                                                                                                 

Postal Address

Legislative Council, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Terms of Reference Establishing Committee

1. That a select committee be appointed to inquire into and report on the benefits and opportunities that improved recreational fisheries may represent for fishing licence holders in New South Wales, and in particular:

(a) the current suite of existing regulatory, policy, and decision-making processes in relation to the management of recreational fisheries in New South Wales, including the process for the creation of Marine Protected Areas and Marine Parks and the efficacy of existing Marine Protected Areas and Marine Parks,

(b) the effectiveness and efficiency of the current representational system of trusts and advisory committees that advise government departments and statutory authorities,

(c) the value of recreational fisheries to the economy in New South Wales,

(d) the gaps in existing recreational fishery programs, including the number and location of Recreational Fishing Havens, and

(e) ecologically sustainable

Campaign Lesson from Abroad Tue, 24 Aug 2010 11:27:55 +0000 admin Having recently retired as a Labour politician after 25 years in public life and escaped the horrors of a hung parliament in Britain to enjoy a sabbatical in sunny Sydney, I have had plenty of time to observe this great Australian contest at close quarters. What a drab, joyless, uninspiring spectacle it turned out to be.

Australians are a great people and I can’t help feeling that they deserve better than most of the politics and some of the politicians who were on offer last week.

Julia Gillard is a pretty impressive politician, a good (if slightly monotonous) communicator and, apparently, an excellent minister always on top of her brief. It seemed to me Australia, by and large, liked the lady.

They may have voted for her in greater numbers if she had spent longer in the top job spelling out a vision and allowing memories of the defenestration of Kevin Rudd to fade a little more.

On the other side was Tony Abbott, who some of my ALP friends assured me was an unelectable, half-crazed former president and founder of the Flat Earth Society whose gaffe-prone style would never survive the pressure and scrutiny of a full-on election campaign. They may have been half right, but it is now clear he proved himself a formidable and disciplined campaigner capable of staying on message for at least five weeks. Mind you, the ability to hide your true feelings from the people you are seeking to lead is hardly the finest pre-requisite for becoming prime minister.

The Coalition campaign was negative, disciplined and effective. They managed to turn the contest into a referendum on Labor’s fitness to govern, rather presenting themselves as a clear choice on who was best able to deliver a better future for Australia.

Stage one in the campaign manual for administrations facing re-election is: choice not referendum, future not the past. The Labor strategy came nowhere near achieving this, with its relentless focus on yesterday and lack of forward vision. For parties of the left in particular, the vision thing is crucial. With the exception of the national broadband network, I struggled to discern much mention of the sunlit uplands into which Labor would lead the nation. Where was Ben Chifley’s ”light on the hill”? Barack Obama’s ”yes we can”? Or even Tony Blair’s more utilitarian ”A lot done - a lot left to do” that saw Blair romp to a second successive landslide in 2001.

Worse, there appeared little sign of inter-linking narrative or punchy messages to cut through the fog of confusion that assaults the voters in any fiercely fought campaign. Abbott’s war cry of stopping waste, boats and new taxes may not stand serious scrutiny, but it was brutally short and easily memorable.

The home insulation program, schools investment overspends and emissions trading scheme fed the Coalition narrative of Labor waste and incompetence and masked the good story to tell on the economy.

Australian national debt, at 6 per cent of gross domestic product, compared to 76 per cent in Britain and 72 per cent in the US, should hardly have been an issue. By failing to put both the strength and future of the economy at the centre of its campaign message, Labor threw away its strongest card and allowed the opposition to set the agenda.

Almost unbelievable was that a confessed climate change denialist like Abbott could land any blows in a nation with regions on the very margins of habitability. Gillard’s ridiculous citizens assembly hardly made the government look credible on the very issue said to have triggered Rudd’s slide into unpopularity.

The Coalition and Abbott were policy-lite and still carried damaging baggage from the Howard era and, more recently, their inept response to the global financial crisis, yet they turned the contest into a referendum on the government rather than the clear choice Labor needed it to be.

Abbott made two big mistakes at his otherwise impressive campaign launch. The ”worst government in history” jibe invited much tougher response than Labor provided. It created the opportunity for the government to accuse him of talking down Australia - always a problem for opposition leaders.

Second, his debt reduction task force should have been rebranded ”Abbott’s schools and hospitals reduction plan” by Labor. He had form in cutting health when in government and Gillard has a record of expansion in education. Abbott’s fitness to be prime minister was always a strong card for Labor, but it was poorly played.

There needed to be more focus on achievements, rather than endless announcements which, after a while, seemed meaningless or invited cynicism. We should have heard more about hospital waiting list cuts, improving school results, more apprenticeships, more new jobs and Australia’s strong economic position.

And where was the big forward offer? A pledge in three years’ time on how Australians could not only look forward to greater prosperity, but to a range of public service guarantees for them and their families to build a fairer society. A Charter for Australia?

I reckon most people wanted to give Gillard a fair go. More may have come on her side if a Labor campaign had helped rather than hindered her cause.

first published by the Sydney Morning Herald, 24 August 2010.

Goodbye, Brave New World Sat, 05 Jun 2010 10:53:51 +0000 admin Back in 1981 I received a call from an old friend predicting the imminent demise of my party and urging me to throw in my lot with the recently formed SDP. “Labour is finished,” this excitable schoolteacher proclaimed, and what’s more, “the SDP are about to break the mould of British politics.”

Apparently the old, two-party system had had its day and the public were crying out for pluralism, cooperation and even coalition. Well maybe they were - for about five minutes or so - but the Liberal/SDP Alliance ended in tears in 1988 after public policy rows, irreconcilable personality differences and a disastrous performance in the 1987 general election which saw them fail to gain a single new seat.

The rise of New Labour and the demise of the the Tories at the fag end of the Major government gave precious few opportunities for a third force to flourish. Twenty years on from the Gang of Four and the Limehouse Declaration, and the 2001 second Labour landslide seemed to suggest that the old mould of politics, far from being broken, was as intact as ever, with one hegemony being replaced by another.

In fact, it took the disastrous decision to invade Iraq before the third party could make any real advances and even some of these were reversed at the recent election. It is not much more than an accident of electoral arithmetic, arising from Cameron’s failure to land a killer blow on a weakened and poorly led Labour Party, that some parts of our great nation are now ruled by Liberal ministers for the first time in nearly a century.

Of course the new arrangements have been accompanied by the same mould-breaking drivel that was being spouted in 1981. Now I don’t doubt that coalition politics could have the potential to attract new levels of support and therefore create long-term term problems for Labour as it seeks to rebuild. However, all political parties have to stand for something substantial other than a longing for the trappings of office, and neither Clegg nor Cameron are figures of substance. Furthermore, I do not see how the ideological differences that divide most Tories and Lib Dems can be papered over for longer than a few months. This is why there is now an excellent opportunity for Labour if they select a new leader capable of articulating new and distinctive policy priorities that are attractive to younger voters in particular.

For me the decision to back Ed Miliband is a no-brainer. I have watched this guy in action in tough ministerial meetings at Energy and Climate Change as well as at the dispatch box. He is a sharp, warm and intelligent communicator and, although with cabinet experience, he does not smell of the tired old Blair-Brown divisions that will haunt his main rivals. The younger Miliband is a genuine environmentalist, although he should have resigned over the third Heathrow runway, and this is an issue which will return to prominence and exercises more newer voters than old.

But irrespective of whoever gets to lead my party, for me life has already moved on. I’m now based for a while on the other side of the world in Sydney, in a country where Labour is in power both nationally and in a majority of the states. Two-party tribal politics is not only alive and kicking down here, it is in-yer-face, complete with some choice expletives.

So its goodbye to the brave new world of coalition politics in Britain, to yet another Labour leadership contest and, I’m afraid, to Daily Telegraph blogs. I’ve enjoyed covering the election period for a newspaper from the other side of the political tracks. Its been fun to occasionally read some of the more rabid comments from the not so brave, anonymous standard bearers of the Right, but it is now time to retreat back to our respective comfort zones.

Nervous new MPs feel stranded on a high wire without a safety net Mon, 31 May 2010 10:50:29 +0000 admin Life at the moment can’t be easy for the 200 or so newbies who woke up on May 7 to find themselves Members of Parliament for the first time. In contrast to the 1997 Labour landslide that catapulted so many of us into the Commons in what already seems like another lifetime, this time it’s really not clear who’s in charge.

The new MPs have a Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime Minister from what were once diametrically opposed political parties who look and sound like twins separated at boarding school. Having spent years attacking and loathing each other, scores of Lib Dem and Tory MPs now have to play happy families so that their leaders can enjoy the trappings of office - at least until the whole “rag-tag and bobtail coalition”, to quote the excellent Dennis Skinner, completely unravels. The Labour newbies, meanwhile, have to adjust to life in opposition under an acting leader who has wisely declined to take part in an endless contest between two people called Milliband. (For the record, I’m backing the one called Ed. )

I’ve heard some wonderfully naive nonsense about the new Parliament with its large new intake ushering an era of “new politics” bereft of the bad old ways. Well, the resignation of David Laws following the Telegraph’s revelations about his personal accommodation claims, coupled with Number 10’s clumsy attempt to censor the BBC’s Question Time panel, must make the new boys and girls feel they are back in a time warp rather than wandering in the sunlit uplands of a new world.

And of all of them are having to grapple with a crazy new system of allowances and a press pack just waiting to pounce on any mistake or indiscretion, however minor or inadvertent. With memories of the last “Manure Parliament” giving them nightmares, no wonder some of the newbies feel stranded on a high wire without a safety net. In fact, I’ve already seen one posting on ConservativeHome from a recently elected Tory MP wondering if they’ve made the worst mistake of their life.

Luckily, some good advice has been provided by kindly and experienced souls from across the party divide. I particularly liked Paul Goodman’s nine-point plan for newly elected members in which he said:

“Remember that your family and friends matter more, in the end, than being Under-Secretary of State for Ball Bearings and Cycle Clips. Give them time and trouble. Get out of the constituency when you feel you have to. Don’t do anything on Sundays unless you must. Make time for books, if you read them, films, if you see them, and passions, if you have them. Switch the BlackBerry on to silent mode and turn up the volume for Mozart… well, for LL Cool J, since you say that’s your thing. Cook dinner. Write a sonnet. Climb a mountain. And talking of writing, never, never trust a journalist. Except, of course, this one.”

Last week The House Magazine produced a handy Survival Guide for New Members which aims to help them settle in and avoid some of the more obvious pitfalls. The contributors include Tory Treasury Committee sage Michael Fallon on how to be effective on Select Committees; Labour’s Gisela Stuart and Ian McCartney on dealing with the Whips and the perils of the greasy pole of power; Conservative rebel Douglas Carswell on being an independent backbencher; and the scandal hit ex-Tory MP Michael Brown on handling the media. My own contribution on being a constituency MP was inevitably somewhat more parochial:

“Never lose touch with your constituency. Produce regular reports detailing your work, both in the patch and in Parliament, and try to get a column in your local paper. Pick your fights with care, but it is good to get a rebellion in as quickly as possible to put the whips in their place and show your constituents you are not a gutless patsy. Remember this bit of advice given to me in 1997 and pass it on to those who follow on from you: “No matter how tough things get, never forget that the House of Commons is the best megaphone in the world. Use it well and use it wisely for the issues that matterto you and your constituents and you won’t go far wrong”.”

I genuinely wish all our new legislators well, but I suspect that this Parliament is going to be heavy going, at least for those who don’t have access to a reliable political compass (and a private income).